Showing posts with label US Navy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US Navy. Show all posts

Monday, May 23, 2011

Capt. Elgin C. Cowart, Jr., USN, M.D. former Museum Curator & AFIP Director

[this obituary was provided to us by his family]

Elgin Courtland Cowart, Jr., M.D., USN Ret.

Dr. Elgin C. Cowart, 87, of Potomac, Maryland died November 1, 2010, after a long bout with Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Cowart is survived by his wife, Madeleine Mary Hoge Cowart; and their children: Phillip Joseph Hoge (Susan) of Crofton, MD; Mary Kim Hoge Kammann of San Diego, CA; James Christopher Hoge, Michael Gregg Hoge of Washington, DC; and John Patrick Hoge, of Annapolis, MD. Additional survivors also include his son & daughter of his first marriage, Steve Cowart (Teresa) of Escondido, CA; daughter, Susan Cowart Ellis of El Paso, Texas; and many grandchildren. He was predeceased by his parents, Elgin Sr. and Annie Susie McAllister Cowart; his beloved grandmother, Susie McAllister; and his brothers, Mac and Jack Cowart.

Originally a born native of Dothan, AL, Dr. Cowart's childhood was mostly spent in beloved Fort Gaines, GA. In those early years, he and his brothers happily visited his grandmother, "Miss Susie", and other relatives there. In Fort Gaines, he was known by his nickname, "Bubba". At the age of 13, Elgin's family set off for New Orleans, LA where he attended and graduated from Alcee Fortier High School in 1940. Having such a close-knit family, Elgin decided to stay close to home as World War II was starting. With the impending war, and having already signed on with the United States Navy, he studied at the Tulane School of Tropical Medicine, and earned his Doctorate of Medical Sciences degree in 1946. Upon finishing at Tulane, Elgin entered active duty being indoctrinated at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. It was there he received his orders to serve in WWII in the South Pacific theatre on the islands of Guam and Yap, where he was featured in the National Geographic Magazine providing medical aid. Upon his return from war, Dr. Cowart practiced family medicine for five fulfilling years in Brook Haven, MS.

In 1955, Elgin returned to active duty in the US Navy, for his residency training and serving in pathology at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland (1955-1960). Then upon receiving promotion, he was assigned to be a Commander supporting the Naval Medical Research Unit in Cairo, Egypt (1960-1964). In 1964, he was appointed curator at the United States Army Medical Museum back in Washington, DC on the National Mall until it closed and was relocated to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus (1964-1969). He was a very quiet and proud man - especially when it came to his work. Tying the up the ribbon to the Medical Museum in the closing ceremony with President Lyndon Johnson, where the Hirshhorn Museum and Gardens now stands, for him that was a very sad day and he looked forward to one day having a medical museum on the National Mall again.

Dr. Cowart served in the Vietnam War and in 1971 was presented the National Legion of Merit on behalf of the United States President in recognition of his meritorious conduct as commanding officer of the Naval Hospital aboard the USS Sanctuary out of Port Hueneme, California. Post-Vietnam War, he returned to AFIP as the Deputy Director (1975) and then Director (1976-1980) where he retired a first time after receiving the select distinction of being honored as the "Clinical Scientist of the Year (Sunderman Award)" for making outstanding contributions to clinical science in research, service, and teaching. Missing his passionate career, he came back to work to become the Director of American Registry of Pathology (1981-1990).

Elgin took great interest in his large extended family and looked forward to hunting trips back in his old childhood stomping grounds with his brothers and sons. He took fishing quite seriously until he took more interest in his Chesapeake Retriever dogs with which he spent many long hours training to receive awards and certificates of distinction. He had always hoped to travel to Alaska to cruise the waterways to see nature in its purest form and witness the Aurora Borealis. He no doubt will be remembered with great affection by those who truly knew and loved him.

A memorial mass and full honors burial will be held on Monday, June 13, 2011 at 11:00 A.M. at Ft. Myer Chapel, Arlington National Cemetery. Those attending are asked to arrive at the administration building at 10:30 A.M.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 8

Museum of Hygiene
Bureau of Medicine & Surgery,
Cor. 18th & G. Streets, N.W.
Washington Jany 8 1883

D.L. Huntington,
Lt. Col. + Surgeon, U.S.A.
+c +c


I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communications of the 5th + 6th instant.

I gratefully acknowledge the receipt of the following articles for the Museum of Hygiene, viz:

1. A model of Tompkins wheeled stretcher.
2. A full sized folding hand-litter with telescopic handles, made at Watervliet Arsenal.
3. A model of an ambulance wagon made at Watervliet Arsenal, accompanied by a copy of Report of a Board of Officers to decide upon a Patter of Ambulance Wagon for Army Use, etc.
4. A model of a ward of a hospital.
5. A model of Hick’s Hospital, with table.
6. A set of Microscopical photographs by Surgeon J.J. Woodward, U.S.A.
7. A set of Centennial photographs with explanatory pamphlets.

Very respectfully,
Your obd’t servant.
J.M Browne
Med. Director, U.S.N.
In charge

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Navy World War 2 cartoon by Hotchkiss online now

MIS 09-7914-1
MIS 09-7914-1

"He had his heart set on pate de foie gras. Navy chow is the best!
Take all you can eat, eat all you can take! Don't be finicky!"
[Nutrition.] [Propaganda.] [World War 2.] [Illustration by: "Hotchkiss
USNR".] World War II. Cartoon.

1944; Bureau of Supplies and Accounts: Navy; U.S. Government Printing
Office; U.S. Navy BUMED Library and Archives

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ketcham and Hotchkiss' Navy cartoon posters from World War 2

Courtesy of the US Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, the National Museum of Health and Medicine has scans of these Navy posters from World War 2.

One is by Dennis the Menace creator Hank Ketcham -


The rest are by Hotchkiss -








Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Coming Next Week: "Pest Week at the Medical Museum!" -- Yellow Fever Talk--7/13--12pm



“Yellow Fever – The Scourge Revealed” Lunchtime Talk at Medical Museum, 7/13/10, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m., Free!


A Presentation by CAPT Stanton E. Cope, Ph.D.

Medical Service Corps, U.S. Navy

Director, Armed Forces Pest Management Board

Bring your lunch and celebrate Pest Week at the National Museum of Health and Medicine with an intriguing talk about Yellow Fever and some of the events that led to greater control of this terrible disease. The talk will focus on a brief history of the disease and its impact on the U.S. and world; the experiments done in Cuba by the Walter Reed Commission using human volunteers; and more. Additionally, papers, books and other items, some of which are from the 18th century, will be on display. These items, including a reprint signed and corrected by Major Walter Reed, are from CAPT Copes award-winning collection on Yellow Fever.

Where: NMHM (Building 54), in Russell Auditorium

When: Tuesday, July 13, 2010, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. (bring your lunch!)

Questions: (202) 782-2673 or




Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Photo of the day, March 24

USS Solace. Commissioned on 08/09/1941; the Solace joined the Fleet on 10/27 and was the first hospital ship to be present in a naval battle when she cared for casualties from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

She won eight engagement stars for participation in this and seven other military operations:
Gilbert Islands, 11/24-26/1943;
occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls, 02/03-04/1944; capture and occupation of Saipan, 06/18/1944-07/02/1944;
capture of Guam 07/24 to 08/15/1944;
occupation of Southern Palau Islands, 09/06 to 10/14/1944;
capture of Iwo Jima 02/23 to 03/10/1945;
and the Okinawa Gunto operation, 03/24 to 06/20/1945.

The Solace was the first hospital ship to be refueled at sea while carrying a full load of patients, near the Gilbert Islands in 11/1943, and the first to receive patients directly from the combat area (in the same campaign).

As an illustration of her activity, during 1943 she traveled 37069 miles, took part in 10 evacuations, 6 of them to transport patients from the New Hebrides area to Aukland and Wellington, New Zealand. Total admissions to the sick list that year amounted to 6465, and she spent 5 months as a station hospital.

During the Iwo Jima and Okinawa operations 1800 units of fresh whole-blood, 1200 units of plasma, 136000 sulfa tablets, and 2.5 billion units of penicillin were administered. She admitted and treated about 25000 patients altogether, 70 percent battle casualties, and steamed over 170000 miles before VJ Day. Thereafter she engaged in transporting Pacific war veterans home and was decommissioned 03/27/1946.

The SOLACE had an overall length of 410 feet, displaced 8650 tons, had a top speed of 18 knots and a cruising range of 7000 miles.

Hospital ships. Solace (AH-5) Folder 3 12/10/1916; U.S. Navy BUMED Library and Archives

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Letter of the Day: February 20

Apparently the Museum was taking x-rays a year after Roentgen discovered how to capture them.

Ballston, VA.
February 20, 1933.

Medical Museum
Washington, D.C.


About November 6, 1896, through a request of the Secretary of War, Dr. Gray made an ex-ray (sic) exposiure (sic) and several thereafter of my cranium, at which time there showed a foreign opaque, lodged in the brane (sic). It is desired to ascertain if there is a record of the circumstances and if possible to get a copy of the report.

This information is desired for use at the Capitol, by Dr. Copeland and Hon. Howard W. Smith of Congrss. The X-ray was again taken last week and they want to check on it.

Wm C Hammond

The letter sent back reads:

February 25, 1933

MEMORANDUM for Major Noyes, S.G.O.:

1. Enclosed herewith is post card from Wm. C. Hammond (Former 1st Cl. Apprentice, U.S. Navy, 701 E. Capitol St.) together with Photostat copies of the correspondence in re this case in 1896.
2. Inquiry by phone to the Record Dept., Bureau of Med. & Surg., U.S.N. and thru them to the U.S. Naval Hospital has fialed to add any further information.
3. We can find no record of the original films at the Museum.

V.H. Cornell,
Major, Medical Corps, U.S.A.

We no longer have any original correspondence, but there are 2 notes about the case. The longer one, dated November 12, 1896, reads:

Respectfully returned with 2 prints. The first negative (Print No 1) shows 2 inches backward in a straight line from orbital ridge and 5/8 inches upward from this point, on wounded side, a small triangular piece of metal, approximately 3/8 x 2/8 inches in its greatest diameters. This is believed to lie near the surface. The second negative (Print No 2) shows this piece of metal scarcely at all, but it shows distinctly a much larger piece in the posterior part of the head. Before making the last exposure two pieces of wire were tied together forming a cross; this cross was tied to the head of the wounded side and its position marked on the skin with nitrate of silver. The large piece of metal lies 6 34/ inches in a direct line backward from the crossed wire; its depth within the brain substance can only be determined by a photograph taken in the opposite direction.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Painting by Samuel Bookatz in Museum

There's an obituary for Samuel Bookatz in today's Washington Post - in our collection is an oil portrait of Ross T. McIntire, Franklin D. Roosevelt's physician, by Samuel Bookatz (1942).

Now that I'm at home, I can post the pictures.

Samuel Bookatz with McIntire painting
Bookatz at the Medical Museum in 1990, cleaning up the paperwork on the painting.

Ross T. McIntire, US Navy Surgeon General
A bad snapshot of the painting.